Friday, December 30, 2011


This was a postcardy demo for the jKids of an Amurrcan New Years card (do those even exist?). Next year is the year of the dragon, so I wanted to include that totally Asian element mixed with that totally US, Saturday Evening Post flavor, and this was the result. I checked J.C. Leyendecker and memories of Mucha to inform the style, vying for that quintessential US illustrative style to highlight to the jPoppers how mighty US illustration used to be like before we as a nation collectively stopped trying, lowered our standards, or just decided photos are better than art (the insinuation being that photos aren't art). Not to say this piece rocked it out of the park or anything, but just use your imagination, you jerk.

Anyway, after a ridiculously negative slump, this has been the greatest non-Yale year of my life, and I am pumped that this no longer applies to me for the first time in a long time. So for now, the plan is to stealth my way to a traditional Japanese New Years event, then on the first I'm going to sweat bullets at a Japanese social event I got invited to via eerie early morning anonymous phone call, to be followed up by a mercifully solo stint at my favorite Japanese Pizzeria.

See you next year. And by "you," I mean "me."


Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This was a Christmas gift for a Japanese sir who makes me pizza, happy.


Monday, December 26, 2011


I decided to get myself a scanner, coincidentally, a couple days before Christmas.

This is a drawing I started on a train and finished at a high school I had to visit for an English debate tournament. Looks neat in person, the inks and the pencils interacting.

I'm pretty happy with this scanner! I feel so empowered, no longer stuck at the mercy of the workplace scanner's availability. So that means potentially more comics since I have scanner access every day! So pumped!

It's like I've dug myself out of a cave and emerged into a whole new world of possibilities. Or whatever.


Friday, December 23, 2011


This is our secondary poster for December's ALT "News." They call it news, but it's not really "news," however I try to include things that might actually be news to Japanese people, such as paper snowflakes and mistletoe. More on that later, though. Today we're making-of our second "Stronger" Santa piece.

These are the pencils. I forgot to snap a photo before I started markering the face with that peachy color, but this is close enough. I also messed up and forgot to glove his left hand. When you draw you have to really work from internal to external, so you have to essentially draw people and things as unclothed mannequins before dressing them in costume, so you can see his left hand is still pre-costume, while his right hand is post costume, in that it's wearing a glove.

This is a breakdown of how I color everything. First plan where you want your light source to be. Mine is typically in the upper left corner, so since the beard and head are obscuring the arm a bit, that means heavy light will break through more on the right than the left. Next I go over in our core color (red) where I want the darkest area to be. This makes future coats necessarily darker in these areas since it'll be a single coat everywhere else, but doubled down in this shadow area.

Next I go over everywhere else I want red to be, all the way up to the highlight, which is usually negative white space for me (the places you never color are called "negative space"). After that, I go in on the darker areas again with the same core color (red) and just use a bit more pressure on the pen. After that, I go in for the absolute darkest areas using a second, shadow color (golden yellow) and color in those areas of the shadow that I want to go really dark on.

This is the arm process brought to the body. Left is the basic red coloring, center is darker red and golden yellow, and right is all that and a black belt.

And this is what it looks like going to "print." The "culture" typography is based on the Cheers logo but the "merry" design is mine. I challenged myself to add some Christmas iconography to this using simple single-color designs.

Here are some detailed shots of the piece. The markers I used are all those pictured plus an orange and a gray from a different set, plus my set's two green tones (not pictured). I have since picked up a bunch of new markers and am absolutely pumped to give them a work out. I've got a couple new Zebra brand markers (my main set, pictured) including gray, but I've added some of those legendary Copics as well as this interesting soft-color brand called Mildliner. Excited to see what I can do with these.

Merry Christmas,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Scoff at squares in sweaters,
Oh ho ho, we're so much better.

A special full-page Homework Sketch for a kid who finished his/her notebook full of monotonous, Bart-Simpson-on-a-blackboard-esque English word-writing homework. I know it's tedious work, kid but by writing random English words ad nauseum, you're bound to have written random English words ad nauseum, which is vitally important if you ever want to have written random English words ad nauseum. Trust me, it's important work that you do.

I could [sic] care less.


Monday, December 19, 2011


I once drew a freakish scribble on the board during one of my elementary school Super Happy Fun Time Visit days. And ya know, it was a kinda super happy fun time, man.

It started as No Face. Then I added Chopper's hat, to roaring laughter and applause. It quickly developed into a game of seeing how much they could identify what I was adding. Such fun. Language barrier be gone!

Who we added, in order:
No Face, Chopper, Sanji, Zolo, Nico Robin, Piccolo, Majin Buu, Sailor Moon, Doraemon, and Pikachu.


Friday, December 16, 2011


My second ALT News Poster for December, this one featuring what has been called by one Japanese citizen a "Stronger Santa." That nomenclature sings so that's what I'm calling it, too. The full thing will debut next Friday, but for now, since I decided to capture the making-of a bit more in depth, we'll start with the most important part: the mug.

In the marker set I bought for myself, I have a peachy colored marker that I brush in quickly for the skin, then for the finer points and the bits where we seep into negative space, I flip the marker around and uncap the "fine point" end to hatch my way into white. Most markers in Japan seem to be double-sided for thick and thin lines, so USers might have to be a little more nimble or careful with their pressure, although I still have to monitor my pen pressure anyway of course.

I don't have any soft gray or blue in my set, so I had to go with the lightest blue I had for the fluff and white-shadow portions of the piece, accented with fine black marker from my marker set. The beard is colored with a gray marker from outside of my own set, and it's kind of dying so it gives a nice brush effect. I also had an orange marker from that gray-marker's set that I went over the shadows of the skin with.

For the red parts, which I'll go more in depth on next week, I went with a coat of red followed by a heavier-pressured red for shadows and then a light brown for the ultimate shadow. The green glove was a combo of my own set's two greens with much fine tip hashing over the darker green to blend them. Was that exciting? No.

Aight, mo neks wee', ya herr'?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Some more homework sketches today. Up first is a Harry Potter for someone who wrote something about liking Harry Potter or something. All I remember is that there was a red colored pencil nearby and I wanted to try it with the usual red pen I draw Homework Sketches with. Although it's branded as red, it makes a nice white-people color. What do you call that color? Peach? Peachy.

It's amusingly frightening how frank English-learning kids are in their compositions. This kid wrote about why he wants to move to the big city: he likes young girls and he cannot lie. Sanji from One Piece can relate.

I believe I drew this guy because the person wrote quite eloquently in their composition. Or at least they mixed it up from the other students' usual copy-and-paste writing tactics. Or I just wanted to draw a surprised guy. I can't remember.

Also, WOW: I just exhaled deeply and breathed out mist! We don't have insulated houses here in Japan, so that gives you an idea of how cold it's getting. I'm currently wearing two socks, four pants, four shirts, a beanie, and a hood-up sweatshirt. And it's only getting colder, Gir.



Monday, December 12, 2011


I don't get graffiti. It's narcissistic arrogance exalted. That I get. I like bombing stuff, myself. Whether it's a strategically-crafted piece designed to get a particular person's attention passively, or just tagging kids' homework so I can imagine they get a mini-thrill at some new imagery to break up the tedium and monotony of their endless worksheets, or quietly slapping people in the face and imagining who might like or feel stung by the work--I get the thrill of placing art up unprompted, poofing away, and having people gravitate towards the art (and by extension the artist, of course).

What I sharply disagree with and am confounded by is justifying littering public space. Most graffiti is mindless to me. Scribbling your name isn't art, nor is putting up cryptic too-cool-for-school scrawlings that hipsters cheer for being ironically bad. So much graffiti is quarter-hearted draftsmanship or senseless dadaism or just plain juvenile or dim-witted work.

But I get the thrill, of course. Japanese stores have tons of free space on open pads of paper for you to sample their wide pen selections. Today's first image was me trying out a calligraphy brush that floated like a cloud on top of sampler stationary. I also drew on a chalk board to help entertain some kids between classes.

This was fun, an artistically fresh experience, and it's not infringing on anyone's space nor asserting my essential value over some pre-existing thing. It's a statement of me and it's effortlessly removed at no expense to anyone other than what the establishment inherently made clear they accept: the sample paper pad will get rotated out when it becomes too cluttered, the chalkboard will be swiped clean before the next class begins. I take a photo to remember that time I got my artistic jollies in public, I get to ghost-entertain people, and nobody gets hurt. If graffiti were executed in a similar harmless fashion, or at least if it were always beautiful rather than frequently grotesque, I could understand the medium. But as is, I don't get graffiti.

To be fair I also don't get the Beatles.

In fact, I hate The Beatles.


Friday, December 9, 2011


I think I'm finally over my cold or at least the worst of it. But here's this month's main poster for December. After last month's poster came out pretty nicely, I wanted to see how far I could push myself with markers. I even bought a set of relatively basic markers and I'm finding that they're working pretty decently. Really considering going all in and getting some Copics.

These are the lines to our anchor piece, an exaggerated Santa and an anxious Rudolf. The jKids call him something else--they even sing Rudolf's song, but the words aren't a translation, but a completely different thing altogether. So I had to explain to them who Rudolf is, even though they all know his (Japanese) song by heart.

These are some WIP shots of Santa. I used three different marker sets for this: one was really old and the pens were dying out, which made for a cool brush texture and softer colors (like the skin and beard); one was great for enhancing our main colors, like for the glove and the more vibrant red overlay color; and the third was the workhorse for the main colors, the pen set I recently picked up (you can see the golden brown and red pens from that set in the photos). I'm new to markers (and non-digital colors in general), so it's a fun exploratory time for me.

And this is what our dudes looked like after it's all said and/or done. The text and title were done with a fourth set of markers that are really thick and easily tear into the paper if you don't move quickly. The "Culture" part of the title was modeled after the Cheers logo, a show I never really watched but loathed for its theme song and logo, which were evocative to me of the most boring imaginings of what that show could possibly be about. We had to watch an episode or two in one of my comedy classes at Yale, and it wasn't bad. But still. That theme song and logo are gross.

And we close with some details of the supplementary stuff. We've got a close up of Rudolf and the month's activity, making paper snowflakes (I don't know if jKids know about paper snowflakes, but I'm pretty sure I've seen them amongst the various origami I see hanging around school). And finally a quick little illustration about mistletoe. Pretty sure they haven't heard of mistletoe before. Plus I just wanted to draw something that was line-centric.

All right, pretty good score of artistic experience points, I'd say. They say snow's a-comin' this weekend, so I'm pumped not to appear crazy for once for staying in on a weekend to draw.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Some more Homework Sketches. This first one was a full-pager for a kid who finished his workbook. To celebrate such a momentous feat, I draw in the back inside cover and this is what that seito got. Does it make sense? No. Must it? No. The opposite of yes? No.

But here are some more HWSs ripped straight from actual homework sheets. We've got a pig in a suit, inspired by the pig transformations in Spirited Away. And then a Christmas elf of some sort to kick off December.

Then a kappa for reasons of haste, and a personal favorite: Majin Buu--not cuz I particularly like the character, but because he's pretty easy and fast to draw but widely recognized and beloved by the kids.

Speaking of easily recognized, fast to draw, and beloved, we've also got a monster ball, or a "pokeball" for non-Japanese lame-os out there.

And speaking of speaking of easily recognized, fast to draw, and beloved subject matter, we close it off with a pikachu getting thunderdrunk. The idea was to make a simple drawing dramatic, so I used some hatching, a novel pose/angle combination, and histrionic background effects. I like how it turned out. If only they could all be that fast and snappy, though.


Monday, December 5, 2011


Some character design that went absolutely nowhere, natch.


Friday, December 2, 2011


I have a cold. I have to bust out some big commissions. Perrrfect. So no comic, just this dude I drew. I tried coloring him with with colored pens I found laying around. It's not unattractive! The jKids liked him.

But this one's really just about the lineart. And while we're on the subject, I noticed a steady stream of site visits come from people looking for coloring pages of black and white Danny Phantom or whatever, so as an experiment, maybe if I write, "black and white" and "coloring pages" for "Pokemon" this page will get similar traffic.

Cool stuff coming next week, if I do say so myself. Trust me. Or don't. I don't owe you anything.